Friday, February 1, 2013


Last night, as I was lamenting about how difficult it is for me to write personal statements, my boyfriend brought up an interesting point about blogging. Before I get to that point, though, does anyone else experience a complete loss of self-confidence every time they have to write a personal statement? I find the experience completely draining, for the following reasons:

  1. I can't stand people who talk about how amazing they are, and it makes me feel like one of these people, which brings on a strong sense of self-loathing.
  2. I constantly compare myself to how amazing other people are, and feel like an insignificant toad. This is especially true for the fellowship I am currently applying for, because someone I know who got it in the past is EPIC.

We had some friends over to dinner last night, who told me to get over myself and gave me some much-needed ideas for things to put on my statement.

They also told me I have first world science problems.
OK, so back to blogging. The thing that my boyfriend said to me was,

"I think you should write about blogging in your statement. You have written some good blogs, and I think it has made a really big difference in your life. You were going through a tough time last year when you started blogging, and I think it has really pulled you through."
This is true, although not 100% due to blogging. I think that more of it has to do with the amazing group of people in the online science community.  Here is how participation in this community has helped me this year.

1) I am in love with science again.

When I was a senior in undergrad, I was absolutely smitten with marine biology. I read everything I could get my hands on, from Carl Safina to Stephen Leatherwood. I lived and breathed marine biology. I was dating a boy from my marine biology class. Our first date was watching finding Nemo, followed by a trip to the sound to release a sea star that we had collected in marine biology lab. The next few years weren't much different, except that I cycled though being obsessed with sea stars to loving seabirds to being crazy about marine mammals.  One of the things that maintained my enthusiasm was being around other people, like my undergrad professors at Puget Sound and Bamfield Marine Science Center, who were also super stoked to be doing science.

Between 2007 and 2011, but somewhere in there I stopped reading science books, and started being very hipster about science. I just wasn't having a blast anymore.

Blogging and participating in the online science community has been a very important form of self-therapy for me. First of all, I get a chance to write (which I love to do) about the things I think are fascinating about science. Secondly, I get to be part of an amazing group of people who are also super excited about science. Thanks, internet nerds. I love your tweets!

Blogging and being back in love with science has also been a great help as far as my PhD research. The challenge of trying to translate complex acoustic terminology into regular speak made things like studying the Fourier equation fun. The exciting challenge of making difficult and potentially boring things clear and fun is something that I think will be helpful throughout my life.  I'm working harder, too - there's a reason they give those google employees so many perks.


2) I have become a better writer.

Writing a blog is good practice for writing in general. In fact, I find that if I have to write something serious, I can pump myself up a little bit by doing a little blogging first. It's always harder to start than anything else!

3) I have met some amazing and helpful friends and mentors.

These people have done everything: helped me find papers, listened to my worries about toxic exposure to carcinogens, made me laugh, edited my writing, and helped me make an idea come to life. You are amazing, thank you.

4) I have a better idea of what I want in life

Writing about what I love gives me a better idea about what I get excited about, and about what I want to do when I finish my PhD program.

Thanks for a great year! And especially thanks to Miriam Goldstein, who convinced me to write a blog post for the Deep Sea News a little over a year ago, as well as Joshua Drew, and Rob Williams for being inspirational, Jessica Carilli for being hilarious, Bora Zircovic for letting me write guest blogs for Scientific American (and for being the Blogfather), Michelle Banks for the lovely art, lolcats and for taking me to the Zoo, and Lydia for the wine and good company.


  1. Happy Blogoversary! Your blogging is totally inspiring, thank you!

  2. Awwww, just saw this! I second Michelle that your writing, to use technical language, is the bomb-diggity.

  3. Catching up on my blogs. I, as a non Marine Biologist and Science doofus, appreciate the way you write. You make it understandable and therefore I can have some what intelligent conversations with John with regards to Marine science. Keep on blogging!

    1. You're no doofus! Scientists just like to use a different language, and sometimes we forget that not everyone speaks jargon. Science communication is not dumbing down, it's speaking the same language.


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